Unequal Property Rights: A study of land right inequalities in Rwanda
The aim of the present paper is to examine the existence and patterns of systematic within-country inequalities in effective land rights in Rwanda. The results of empirical estimations drawing on data on the land tenure arrangements of over 5,000 Rwandan households indeed suggest systematic within-country inequalities in land rights, with households headed by women or young individuals, households that have been displaced due to conflict, and households in the Imidugudu village settlements reporting significantly weaker rights than their respective comparison groups. The observed inequalities are not only the result of variation in tenure arrangements, but also exist when comparing households cultivating plots under similar land tenure regimes. Finding within-country inequalities in effective property rights highlights the need to – unlike much of the quantitative literature in the field – carefully evaluate how property rights apply to different segments of a country’s population. For Rwanda, which is in the process of implementing an extensive land reform, this is especially relevant.
JEL classification: D02; K11; O12; O55; Q15; R14; R52